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[1900 - 1905] [1906
- 1908]  
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You'll note that this year includes events listed under "Also
in . . ." These are events for which we don't have a specific
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January 2 The first contingent of the Canadian
Active Service Force left for Europe. The second contingent will
leave January 2, 1940. No indication of where they left from was
published at the time.
January 3 The T. Eaton Co announced that demolition
work on the old Hotel Vancouver at Georgia and Granville would start
immediately. The company wanted to locate its new department store
here. But the hotel was used for vets after the war, so this 1940
plan must have been postponed.
February 16 Orpheum Theatre manager Ivan Ackery
proudly hosted the Canadian premiere of Gone With The Wind.
Vivienne Leighs daughter happened to be attending a private
school here, and she was in the audience (unannounced, at her mothers
February 29 The Sun merged its radio
station with CKWX and the station's power was increased to reach
nearly all parts of B.C.
February Canada's first all-Chinese-language
school was dedicated at 571 East Georgia Street.
March 28 Coal Harbour Shipyards burned.
April 11 Greater Vancouver shipyards began
to build corvettes and minesweepers for action in the Atlantic.
Some passenger ships were converted.
April 20 Arts writer Tony Robertson was born.
April 21 Ron Barnet, future sportscaster,
May 1 Dal Richards, his 11-piece band and
a then-unknown 13-year-old singer named Juliette were booked to
replace Mart Kenney at the new Hotel Vancouver's Panorama Roof ballroom.
An initial six-week contract stretched into 25 years of regular
performances and broadcasts at "The Roof." More on this
Also May 1 The first May Day festival in Coquitlam.
May 2 Edward Beaton Cook, pioneer contractor,
died in Vancouver aged about 87. He was born in 1853 in Blanchard
Township, St. Mary's, Ontario. In March 1886 he moved to Gastown
(later Vancouver). He built the Bank of B.C. building, the city's
first bank (it was at Hastings and Richards, had no connection with
the present bank of that name) and the Imperial Building at Seymour
and Hastings. He built Douglas Lodge at Granville and West 12th
Avenue, one of the city's first large apartment buildings.
May 7 Angelo Calori, the proprietor of Gastowns
Europe Hotel (the famous "flatiron" building at the convergence
of Alexander and Powell), died in Vancouver at age 81. Calori was
born in Italy in 1860. He came to Victoria in 1882, to Vancouver
in 1886. His Province obituary May 8th said "In 1886
he started construction of the Europe Hotel and built a large addition
in 1890. In 1908 he added another sectionthe first concrete
building in Vancouver." These dates are at odds with the generally
accepted date of construction: 1908-09. The building still stands
in Gastown, with fine stonework, glass and a marble main floor.
Calori was a founder (with restaurateur Agostino Ferrera) of the
Sons of Italy.
May 9 In UBC s 25th annual convocation
the largest graduating class in its history was "capped"
at the University theatre. Chancellor R.E. McKechnie congratulated
389 young men and women.
May 10 In Great Britain, Winston Churchill
became Prime Minister.
May 28/29 Dunkirk.
June 16 Vancouver celebrated its first Fathers
June 23 The St. Roch (built in North
Vancouver in 1928 as an RCMP patrol ship for Western Arctic operations)
sailed from Vancouver. Because of wartime security her departure
went unreported. She traveled to Sydney, Nova Scotia through the
Canadian Arctic. It would take her two years! Her return made her
the first vessel to travel the Northwest Passage in both directions.
June 29 The Big Bend Highway,
linking Revelstoke and Golden and completing the last link in the
western section of the transcontinental highway, was officially
opened. It was now possible to drive across Canada within
July 3 Five Canadian Pacific locomotives of
the Royal class soon will be hauling passenger trains
between Revelstoke and Vancouver, said the July 3, 1940 Province
First of the five, No. 2860, reached Field
Monday for delivery to the British Columbia district, and No.'s
2861, 2862, 2863 and 2864 will follow in short order. It was one
of this type, No. 2850, which was assigned last summer to the royal
train, and it hauled the gleaming blue and silver unit all the way
from Quebec to Vancouver in what proved to be the longest single
run ever achieved by any locomotive.
July 8 Our notes show this or July 9 as the
date of the arrival of the first British war evacuee children in
Vancouver, but the May 7 Sun has a story on the arrival of
a few kids. Thousands of children were evacuated from Britain for
the duration of the Second World War.
July 16 Future MLA and cabinet minister Darlene
Marzari was born.
July 22 Elementary Training School Number
8, part of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan, began training its
first batch of pilots.
July The Channel Islands became the only British
territory occupied by Nazi Germany. Vancouvers Channel Islanders
Society began fundraising activities to help refugees from Guernsey
August 6 The first season of Theatre Under
the Stars began in Stanley Park's Malkin Bowl. The program featured
The Geisha, As You Like It and Midsummer Night's
Dream. Reserved seats were 50 cents, unreserved 25 cents. We
needed TUTS, because the other news was generally bad, with the
Provinces front-page headline reading Nazis Groom Air
Blitzkrieg Forces. A big crowd showed up for the performance: 4,000
if you read the Province, 12,000 if you read the Sun.
August 26 The Suns Free Salmon
September 4 Georgia Sweeney, the Hastings
Mills schools first teacher, died in Santa Paulo, California.
Her age at death is unknown to us, although its likely she
was in her 80s. She was a graduate of a girl's seminary in Victoria.
An accomplished musician and artist, although her admirers noted
she "could also milk a cow." In 1941 her daughter, Esther
Cummings, told city archivist J.S. Matthews that her mother was
also the church soloist. Her pencil sketches are in the Vancouver
City Archives. She taught classes at Hastings Mill School in 1872,
then left for San Francisco. She married in the early 1880s. (The
spelling "Sweney" is also recorded.)
September 7 Gary Lauk, future MLA and cabinet
minister, was born.
Also September 7 The London blitz began as
German bombers pounded the city.
September 11 Vancouver writer and educator
Sue Alderson was born in New York City. She will move to Vancouver
in 1967 to teach at SFU and, as a writer, will become most known
for her funny childrens stories featuring Bonnie McSmithers.
The designer of this web site, Stephanie Davis, loved having those
stories read to her when she was a kid. See this
September 30 Harry Jerome, who will become
a famous sprinter, was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
October 1 The Provinces Claude
Dettloff took the famous Wait For Me, Daddy photograph. It
became the most reproduced Canadian World War Two picture. See the
story here. Constance
Brissenden writes that Dettloffs photo was named one of the
10 best pictures of the 1940s by Life Magazine. The
unposed shot, she goes on, was taken at 9 metres with
a 3 1/4 by 4 1/4 Speed Graphic and a 13.5 C.M. Zeiss lens. Exposure
was 1/200 of a second at F.8, using Agfa film.
October 9 John Lennon was born.
October 16 The King George VI Highway was
officially opened under that name. (Its name had been the Peace
Arch Highway.) There were a lot of people on hand, including Premier
Duff Pattullo and Elmer Johnston, president of both the B.C. Automobile
Association and the Vancouver Tourist Association, Surrey Reeve
J.V. Leyland and a bunch of the usual suspects. Scores of
cars," the Province reported, lined the highway
on both sides of the Peace Arch to witness the colourful opening
ceremony. (The population of Surrey this year, by the way,
was about 15,000.)
October 17 The cornerstone was laid for Shaughnessy
November 10 Cap Hobbis opened
his first bicycle store in New Westminster. He will eventually own
12 Cap's Bicycle shops throughout the Lower Mainland, and will later
establish a bicycle museum at the first store.
December 15 Mary Agnes Joe Capilano (her native
name Lay-kho-lote, also Lahullette, La-yulette), Squamish matriarch,
died on the Capilano Indian Reserve, North Vancouver at age 104.
She was born in 1836 at Potlatch Creek on Howe Sound. Her grandfather,
George Mathias, had welcomed George Vancouver off Point Grey on
June 13, 1792; her father was Chief Skakhult. She was known as "The
Indian Princess of Peace," was an authority on the genealogy
of coastal tribes and counted a great orator in her language. She
was married to Joe Capilano. Throughout her long life she travelled
everywhere by dugout canoe.
December 22 Chris DArcy, future MLA
Also in 1940
Vancouvers Major-General Victor Odlum, about
60, is given command of the 2nd Canadian Division.
In the 1940s the Boeing Aircraft factory in Richmond
employed about 5,000 people producing parts for the B-29 Superfortress.
In the 1940s peat moss was extracted from Delta's
Burns Bog by the U.S. government for the manufacture of magnesium
During the war years many single women from the Prairies
came to work in Fraser River canneries. They lived in company bunkhouses,
each of which had a matron in change. Many of the women married
local fishermen and stayed on.
Benedictine Monks bought the old Ceperley Mansion
at Burnaby's Deer Lake for use as a seminary.
Kingsway was widened to four lanes.
Joy Coghill, who will become one of Vancouvers
best-known theatre performers, came to Vancouver from Scotland.
She entered into dramatics and attended UBC where she graduated
with a B.A. degree.
The Empress Theatre (it stood at the northwest corner
of Hastings and Gore) was torn down this year, and thereby hangs
a story . . . about Anna Pavlova. She was called the greatest dancer
who ever lived, and her 1910 appearance in Vancouver was met with
rapturous praise. One tiny memento of her appearances in Vancouver
came to light in a curious way many years after she died in 1931.
It happens that, during one of her visits here, she had performed
at the now-vanished Empress. While they tore that theatre down in
1940, one of the workmen noticed a flash of soft color in the debris.
He reached down and picked up a tiny powderpuff. Stitched on it,
in faded golden letters, was a single word: Pavlova.
Jung Jin Sow became publisher of the Chinese Times.
He would hold that post to 1948.
Banff, Scotland-born James Sinclair, about 32, was
elected a Liberal MP for Coast Capilano.
By 1940 Saba's had become the largest retail house
in Western Canada specializing in silks. The Saba family had arrived
in Nanaimo in 1888, then moved to Vancouver. Mike Saba (born c.
1861 in Beirut) opened Saba Brothers on W. Hastings with his younger
brother Alexander (born c. April 7, 1881 in Beirut) in November
1903. Two years later, the store moved to the 500 block Granville.
Mike retired in 1921, selling his shares to Alex.
Malcolm Lowry, novelist, born July 28, 1909 in New
Brighton, near Liverpool, England, moved into a squatters
shack at Dollarton, on the north shore of Burrard Inlet, and began
to complete his masterwork, Under the Volcano, counted by
many as one of the great books of modern literature.
Albert O. Koch, whose National Dress Co. was Vancouver's
first garment manufacturing plant, started a chain of dress stores
Brantford, Ontario-born Lawren Harris, painter, one
of the Group of Seven, moved to Vancouver at about age 54. He is
considered one of the great Canadian painters of the 20th century.
He lived here until his death January 29, 1970.
Poet and novelist Peter Trower, born in St. Leonard's-on-Sea,
England in 1930 came to Vancouver, aged 10. Hes had a really
interesting life. See this
Novelist Helen Potrebenko was born in Grand Prairie,
Alberta. Her most well-known book, Taxi (1975), fictionalized the
struggles to earn a living of a female cabbie in Vancouver, a job
she herself had held. See this
Australia-born educator Violet Dryvynsyde, who had
come to Vancouver with her family in 1930, founded the private Athlone
School for Boys with six students. (By the time of her death in
1969, the school at 49th and Arbutus will have 230 students.)
Alma, New Brunswick-born Ernest Cleveland, chief
commissioner of the Great Vancouver Water District since 1926, turned
65 on May 12, 1939 and so had reached retirement age. But his work
was considered so important that special legislation was passed
allowing him to continue on the job. He served for 12 more years.
The Cleveland Dam on the Capilano River is named for him.
A cruise ship called the Prince Robert, built
in 1930 for the Canadian National Railway's Vancouver-to-Alaska
cruise service, was converted by the Royal Canadian Navy to an armed
merchant cruiser in 1939. Marine historian Rob Morris writes that
she seized the German freighter Weser off Manzanillo, Mexico
in 1940 and brought her to Esquimalt as a prize of war. The Prince
Robert then continued her wartime service around the world until
The Central Median of Cambie Street Boulevard was
installed, a legacy of the Bartholomew plan. See the 1928 chronology.
Architectural writer Sean Rossiter says Vancouver
architect Ned Pratt was instrumental in locally launching the modern
era in house design by doing the drawings this year for artist B.C.
Binnings' largely self-designed West Vancouver house.
Journalist Alan Morley published a collection of
stories on earliest Vancouver in The Romance of Vancouver.
They had earlier appeared as a series in the Sun.
1940 Studebaker President Eight Coupe
- 1884] [1885 - 1891] [1892
[1900 - 1905] [1906
- 1908]